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Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar told reporters Tuesday that he “absolutely” will run for a seventh term, adding that he hasn’t even considered retirement.
“I’ve been fortunate to have very good health and spirits,” the Republican said after a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “I don’t take it for granted, but nevertheless I’m excited for what I’m doing.”
Lugar, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he expects tea party leaders in Indiana to look for a single candidate to oppose him in the Republican primary. He said they were disappointed that Republican Sen. Dan Coats won his primary in the previous election cycle after tea party voters were split between multiple candidates.
Lugar said tea party groups plan to meet Saturday to begin looking for one candidate to coalesce around.
“Coincidentally I have a very large fundraiser on Friday night, at least by Indiana standards. We hope to raise $320,000 from several hundred people who are coming out very early,” he said. “This is still the year before the year, and I can’t recall a time when there’s been this vigorous activity in Indiana in regards to a Senate campaign.”
A Lugar spokesman said the Indianapolis fundraiser wouldn’t be the Senator’s first fundraiser of the cycle.
Lugar, 78, was first elected to the Senate in 1976 after serving as mayor of Indianapolis. In 2006, he had no opponent in the primary and only a Libertarian opponent in the general election, which he won with 87 percent. His closest election was in 1982. But thanks to Lugar’s close working relationship with President Barack Obama’s administration and some of his recent moderate votes, tea partyers are not pleased.
Tea party leaders in Indiana have already said they would support state Sen. Mike Delph or state Treasurer Richard Mourdock if they wanted to run against Lugar in the Republican primary.
The Senate race is likely to be decided in the primary. Following popular Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh’s announcement that he would retire in the previous cycle, the party nominated Rep. Brad Ellsworth to run against Coats. Ellsworth lost, 55 percent to 40 percent.
Potential statewide candidates are also looking at running for governor. Term limits prohibit Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels from running for re-election in 2012.